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ABAC administrator finds escape in writing

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

TIFTON, Ga. -- Humor, funny personalities and even things that frustrate him all help to inspire Niles Reddick.

Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College's vice president for academic affairs has written two books released by different publishers. The novel "Lead Me Home" is his most recent work and was published by RoseHeart Publishing of Chiefland, Fla.

According to a news release, "Lead Me Home" recounts a young man's journey back to his roots with humor, soul-searching and surprises. Hahira native Reddick uses south Georgia towns Pavo and Nashville for the book's setting.

"My great grandmother, Charlotte Peacock Reddick, and her family settled in Pavo, where the book is set," said Reddick, who previously worked for Motlow College before coming to ABAC in 2007. "Pavo means Peacock in Latin, and the main character of the book is Max Peacock, named for my family."

The novel follows Max Peacock returning home to attend his great Aunt Catfish's funeral. While there, he finds out about possible job problems when he checks his e-mail. He also discovers his family has a history of mental illness after reading his great aunt's personal letters.

After the funeral, events take numerous humorous twists in the life of Pavo citizens. Max's cousin winds up in detox. He attends church with his parents and witnesses the minister being asked to resign due to rumors of an affair with a recent widow, who had shot her abusive husband. The minister's refusal to quit causes a split in the church.

When Max returns to Nashville, he finds out that during his absence his wife, Jaden, saw an unsettling crime against a homeless woman. He also learned that his spouse is pregnant with their first child.

Reddick, who also serves on Tifton's Planning and Zoning Board, has enjoyed writing since he was a teenager. For his Florida State University doctorate dissertation on "Eccentricity as Narrative Technique," Reddick included interviews with authors Lee Smith, Clyde Edgerton and Janice Daugherty. He also was the editor of "The Distillery" for two years, elevating the journal from a regional publication to an international one, according to his website, nilesreddick.com.

"I think there's some characters and stories that need to be told," said Reddick, 45, in an interview with The Herald. "People like to be entertained. I don't write for the money. It's self-motivated. If I get mad about something, or if I find something extremely humorous, then I incorporate it into the story I'm writing at the time. I guess that's how I get inspired."

Reddick's first book was a short story collection titled "Road Kill Art and Other Oddities," which was a finalist for an Eppie Award in fiction. Eppie Awards have "recognized outstanding achievement in electronic publishing since 1999," stated ReadersRead.com. Whiskey Creek Press of Casper, Wyo., published "Road Kill Art" in 2006.

Inman Majors, author of two novels including his latest "Wonderdog," reviewed Reddick's "Road Kill Art."

"A fast and funny read. Very funny," wrote Majors, who teaches creative writing at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. "I laughed out loud more times than I can count. The voice here is quirky, manic and absolutely original. With one foot in the rural past and another in the strip mall world of the New South, Reddick is exploring new territory here. Read this book. There is nothing else out there remotely like it."

Janie Franz, author of "Freelance Writing: It's a Business, Stupid!," also reviewed "Road Kill Art."

"There is a feeling throughout these stories that they are somewhat autobiographical," she wrote in her review posted on MyShelf.com. "Even Bailey White's remarkable stories, which are often heard on National Public Radio, have some humorous, often exaggerated renderings of people in her own life. Reddick's skill, however, is less the storyteller of Bailey White and more the essayist of Sam Pickering. Now, put those two Southern writers in a room together and watch the hyperbole fly!

"If you'd like to take a little drive through Reddick's South, check out 'Road Kill Art and Other Oddities'."

Reddick has heard from fans of his books who say they enjoy how relatable his stories are "because they live it and see it."

"I like to write about things I've experienced or things that I've heard about," said Reddick, who also holds degrees from Valdosta State University and the University of West Georgia. "If you don't find the humor in life, you've got a pretty miserable experience."

Reddick said his books are available at Amazon.com or in any chain bookstore. He and his wife, Michelle, have two children, Audrey and Nicholas.